SE CASC Resources for the U.S. Caribbean

The Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center’s footprint encompasses the islands of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This unique tropical region, heavily reliant upon freshwater and coastal systems, is at risk of rising temperatures, drought, and extreme events due to climate change. Below are some resources developed by the Southeast CASC and National CASC to aid in learning more about climate impacts and adaptation throughout the U.S. Caribbean region.

NCA4 Webinar Series: The U.S. Caribbean presentation

On February 11th, 2020, Dr. William Gould, Director of the USDA Caribbean Climate Hub, gave an in-depth presentation on the U.S. Caribbean chapter of the Fourth National Climate Assessment as part of the six-part SE CASC NCA4 webinar series. Dr. Gould explains each of the six key messages from the chapter and connects those ideas to relevant research and data sources.

A Guide to Understanding the U.S. Caribbean Chapter of the NCA4

To prepare for Dr. Gould’s presentation, the SE CASC developed a guide to understanding the U.S. Caribbean chapter of the NCA4. This guide provides an overview of the key messages in the chapter, as well as links and downloadable PDF files for each of the images. Additionally, there are links to case studies from the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit and relevant projects and publications from the SE CASC.

U.S. Caribbean Drought Workshop Fact Sheets

In May 2018, the USDA Caribbean Climate Hub, in collaboration with the Southeast and National CASCs, hosted the U.S. Caribbean Drought Workshop at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The workshop brought together scientists and managers from the agriculture, natural resources, and water supply sectors in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the mainland U.S to discuss the impacts of drought on ecosystems, agriculture, and the water supply in the U.S. Caribbean. The following fact sheets summarize the regional impacts of drought on ecosystems and agriculture in the U.S. Caribbean:

–  Drought Impacts on Tropical Forest Ecosystems
–  Drought Impacts on Coastal Estuary Ecosystems
–  Drought Impacts on Freshwater Ecosystems
–  Drought Impacts on Crops
–  Drought Impacts on Livestock
–  Full Workshop Report

These fact sheets can also be accessed from the National CASC’s Ecological Drought Across the Country Story Map.

Caribbean Oral History Webpage

Throughout the U.S. Caribbean Drought Workshop, the Southeast CASC and North Carolina State University collected oral testimonies, documenting the personal experiences of participants with drought and other extreme weather events in the U.S. Caribbean. These stories provide insight into the science needs of the natural resource community in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and provide context for what types of information could help managers effectively plan for future extreme weather events. The Caribbean Oral History archive includes video interviews and transcripts in English and Spanish.

Op-Ed: Preparing for Droughts Should be a Priority in the V.I.

This op-ed, written by Dr. Greg Guannel, Ph.D. for the St. Johns Source in the U.S. Virgin Islands discusses drought outlook and impacts for the U.S. Caribbean region. Dr. Guannel also participated in the SE CASC Caribbean Oral History Project. Learn more about his story here.

Intergenerational research on Indigenous agricultural knowledge, climate resilience, and food security in the Caribbean

Dominique David-Chavez, an Indigenous Caribbean scholar, PhD Candidate at Colorado State University, and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow authored this post about the resilience of Caribbean Indigenous island communities and the importance of building an intergenerational, community-based climate research model. This research included a community advisory group in which local elders, parents, educators, conservation practitioners, and youth participated in a workshop to collaboratively co-design research goals and objectives for a climate research study in an effort to sustain Indigenous knowledge resources for the future.

SE CASC Science Projects

Modeling Future Temperature and Precipitation for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Caribbean

This research project developed a suite of dynamically downscaled projections for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Caribbean region. The framework provides a unique opportunity to advance knowledge about climate change impacts on island ecosystems in the global tropics. The resulting simulations fill a critical need for climate change information in Puerto Rico and the broader U.S. Caribbean by enabling future estimates of likely deviations from known ranges of species’ thermal/ moisture optima. This work furthers scientific understanding of local responses to global climate change and provides a basis for a robust decision- making approach to climate adaptation in the Caribbean.

Strategic Habitat Conservation and Adaptive Strategies for the Conservation of Coqui Frogs in Puerto Rico

In this project, researchers will help the recovery of two endangered “coqui” species, while also reducing the risk that 14 other coqui species would be added to the Endangered Species list. Prior work by these researchers identified factors influencing life history for three representative species (E. wightmanae, E. britonni, and E. antillensis) including where species occur, their abundance, and key drivers of reproduction, all of which are driven by climate and land use change. For this next research stage, this project will: (1) characterize the ability of the three representative species, plus the endangered E. juanriveroi, to cope with environmental stressors using a combination of laboratory and field experiments; (2) map the genetic structure of these species to learn about connections between different populations and identify centers of genetic diversity; and (3) assist agencies in the development of conservation strategies centered on two potential adaptation actions: relocating species to new habitats (i.e. translocations) and identifying habitats that could potentially be resilient to climate change.